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Residents angered by vandals dumping rubbish in Cambridge water course





Residents are calling for action to stop “pleasure-seeking vandals” who throw rubbish in a brook to create a ‘dam’ to gain access to Cherry Hinton lakes.

Cllr Robert Dryden, third left, with members of the Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook, from left, Ruth Ivimey-Cook, John Oakes, David Brooks and Prabhu Guptara, with rubbish collected from the brook Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Robert Dryden, third left, with members of the Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook, from left, Ruth Ivimey-Cook, John Oakes, David Brooks and Prabhu Guptara, with rubbish collected from the brook Picture: Keith Heppell

They say the former chalk quarries are a magnet for people from as far away as Lincolnshire who throw everything from saplings and pallets to allotment sheds into Cherry Hinton Brook, effectively halting the water flow and harming wildlife.

There is one public bridge crossing the brook between Daws Lane in Cherry Hinton and Burnside. The wooded land on one side of Snakey Path by the brook is private, and using it is trespass.

Residents, who have made representations to the landowners, city council and police, also say the bathers leave lots of rubbish which the Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook, who number more than 100, clear up regularly.

Friends’ member John Oakes said: “This has been going on for decades. People come from all over to bathe in the lakes - you see registration plates from Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire. They throw things in the brook so that they can get across it - pallets, iron railings, 15ft saplings, they are all thrown in with abandon. Even the roof of my neighbour’s shed ended up in the water.

“That blocks the stream and they throw plastic bags, bottles, crisp bags and beer cans in the water, the oxygen content goes down and wildlife suffers.”

Trees and rubbish strewn in Cherry Hinton Brook are affecting the water quality and wildlife Picture: Keith Heppell
Trees and rubbish strewn in Cherry Hinton Brook are affecting the water quality and wildlife Picture: Keith Heppell

Proposals have been made to turn the lakes site into an urban nature reserve and country park, funded by developing nearby land north of the railway line. The area has been renamed Burnside Lakes by the Anderson Group, which owns the majority of the site – the city council is also an owner.

Peterhouse owns some land nearby and Bidwells, acting for the college, has informed residents that contractors will erect palisade fencing to block access points.

A Bidwells spokesperson said: “Alongside neighbouring landowners also impacted by these problems, we have been engaging with residents and the police for some considerable time to try to prevent rubbish dumping in the brook. We are aware the rubbish emanates from persons taking unauthorised access to the lakes beyond.

“We have constructed new sections of fence to close off certain access points, put up signs and, most recently, engaged a contractor to construct additional fencing along an access point near the brook. Once again, we strongly urge the public to refrain from taking access to the lakes which are private property and to stop putting rubbish in the brook.”

Trespassers are ignoring the signs to keep out of private land around the lakes Picture: Keith Heppell (41209335)
Trespassers are ignoring the signs to keep out of private land around the lakes Picture: Keith Heppell (41209335)

Mr Oakes said: “It's about time residents and wildlife were protected from the daily invasion by pleasure-seeking vandals that takes place every summer. Let’s hope the fence does the trick.”

Cherry Hinton councillors and the city MP have taken up the case. Cllr Mark Ashton said: “We have had Daniel Zeichner visit the site and he said he will be getting in touch with the relevant authorities.

“It’s good news Peterhouse is putting up a fence, everybody is appreciative but we don’t see the fence as a one-hit wonder. There is a hard core of people who have used angle grinders to destroy fences.

“We need the police to take further action. They say it is mainly a civil issue but they have used dispersal orders in the past. The police have said they will involve ward councillors at their next meeting, and we’re waiting for that meeting.”

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